Hot dogs. Crackerjacks. Beer. The sounds of baseball echoed through Marlins Park has the Miami Marlins kicked off their opening week of the 2019 Major League Baseball season against the Colorado Rockies and the NY Mets. And with that kicked off my first season working for MLB.
Opening day and week has this pageantry tied to it that hearkens back to the games of yesteryear. It’s a different vibe than say a game played in June. You can feel the hope and optimism in the air. Parents with their kids, gloves in tow, just as their parents did for them. The smell of hot dogs and peanuts wafting through the air. Smelled like baseball season to me.
I am no stranger to sports photography, but working for Major League Baseball is a first for me. First time walking into Marlins Park not as a fan and first time back since Jeffery Loria sold the team. Walking towards one of the photo rooms in the bowels of the stadium and I push open a set of doors only to see Derek Jeter, the Marlins CEO, standing there. He told me to have a great day and in that split second I had flashbacks of Jeter as a Yankee, the dreaded rival to my Red Sox. I thanked him and offered him my best wishes for the season. Still a little weird, but I quickly got over it.
The Miami Marlins opened up their season against the Colorado Rockies. There I was on the field for batting practice, watching the hitting displays and listening to the jokes be spread among teammates. So often I’ve watched baseball from afar in the stands, only dreaming to step on the field and there I was, inches away from the games brightest and best players.
And just like my work with the NFL, I was able to see that the photographs that I was taking was being used on the social media sites for the teams. There is no better validation or feeling knowing that your work was deemed worthy enough to be used by a professional sports team’s social media accounts.
While the Marlins split the opening series against the Rockies, they were less fortunate against their next opponent, the NY Mets, who swept the 3 game series from them. Other than Opening Day, the crowds at Marlins Park were nothing to be amazed at and that will probably be the same for the rest of the season. Miami fans have suffered years under the previous ownership group that they’re not willing to come back out until a winner is put on the field.
For me, the crowd size never mattered. I was there to photograph the game, the players. Sure crowd photos show excitement and emotion, but when the majority of the crowd is for the visiting team, it has a weird effect on the ball park.
For me Opening Week was my adjustment period. I shot from various locales within the park. I was in the well, in center field and behind home plate. I was shooting and learning all the nuances that Marlins Park provides. I even ran into familiar faces from the NFL games joining me in the stands to shoot.
This was just the beginning of my baseball season. Week 1 down, countless to go and I cannot wait. Getting to photograph some of the games biggest players like Bryce Harper, Jacob deGrom, Manny Machado etc. is a thrill in itself.
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